Monday, December 22, 2008

The Weldon annual Christmas Letter

I did this last year and thought I would give you a glimpse of the reality that is my life. It's long but funny and since Beth thought it was funny she included one of my previous posts (the Costa Rica story)... Merry Christmas


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! It's time to put on your reading glasses, pour yourself a glass of Christmas cheer & feel better about your life. First a disclaimer, my mind has finally failed & I can’t remember the stories I wanted to write for Polly & Mac (which were great but will now be mediocre). As a result of this, I have now acknowledged that I must write things down for next year & Alan was a large contributor this year so there are some “bodily function” & adult content stories. Consider yourselves forewarned! That said, Alan's folks & family are doing well as are mine except for my dad whose artificial hip got infected & had to be removed & can't be replaced until the diabetic ulcer on his foot heals. Sarah's best friend Dani is an addition to the family since the end of last December. Turns out she's the best behaved, most appreciative of the feral Weldon kids! She seems to ease some of the sibling bickering & create more camaraderie (an unexpected plus). We had fun family trips including skiing (we learned Sarah’s cautious, Murphy likes jumps, Polly hates her helmet, & Mac craves speed), Cumberland (the perennial favorite), a cruise, a trip to Washington University (Sarah's 1st choice for college), the beach, North Carolina, Costa Rica, & Halloween Horror nights. We had wonderful visits from & to family & friends in Jacksonville, St.Louis, Phoenix, & Chicago.
Alan hits the gym most mornings before work & is looking really buff! His philosophy of weight lifting is to increase his chest size, then regardless of how big his belly gets as long as his chest is bigger he will proportionally look okay. He is playing a lot of tennis & entered 2 doubles tournaments this year with his partner Elliot (our cruise ended up being 4 days instead of 7 for about the same price because Alan thought his tournament was a week early & we needed to get back!) He has hired another Associate & is only on call 1 out of 6 weekends, which is great (except the weekend he is on)! He is elated with the Gators & disgusted with the Jaguars. GO GATORS! I have switched jobs after over 17 years although I still work once monthly at my old practice. My new job is 3 days a week mostly doing surgery in a practice with 3 other veterinarians. I exercise 5-6 times weekly & yoga about 3 times. We average 4-5 sit down dinners a week although usually at least 1 kid is missing (not milk carton missing) for soccer, wrestling, or work at this time of year. Alan used to avoid the soccer games when the kids were peewees as he considers it "Commie ball". He would never let them play in holiday tournaments because he felt it ruined family time together. But to his credit, now that they are playing at Episcopal he won’t miss any sporting events, even soccer! Last week we were on our way back from a night at a bed and breakfast in St. Augustine when Greg called to ask Alan what he was doing that evening. Alan explained that Polly had a 4:00 soccer game, then Murph had a 5:30 soccer game, & finally Dani had a 7:20 soccer game. Greg started laughing & when Alan asked him what was so funny, Greg replied, "You know what you are don't you?" "What?" asked Alan innocently & then Greg blindsided him with " a SOCCER DAD!" Alan was horrified as the truth of this sunk in. We are still over run with Italian Greyhounds (IG’s) & though Alan was concerned when the roofer told him that he had seen a huge rat in the back yard running under the deck, he was delighted after he related the information to me and I pointed out that we had 6 dogs & 2 cats in the yard & I was sure that there were no rats only 3 gray IG’s that like to hide under the deck! He has been laughing about my "show rats" ever since. I should have had enough sense to keep my mouth shut, but he has enjoyed it so much it was probably worth it. While in a haunted house at Universal, a redneck ghoul asked me if I wanted to dance on the table (after hearing Alan suggest this to me) while he blocked my progress. I declined & then he offered me a spot behind the bar with him. “I’m with my husband” I responded apologetically. He replied, “Oh, he can watch” much to Polly & Dani’s horror! Thanks Alan!
Dani has been a superb addition although she complains about the midnight curfew. She is in the IB program at Stanton & plays Varsity soccer. She works as a hostess & a lifeguard, too many hours in my opinion but she likes her spending money. Her nickname is Thumbelina because she averages over 2000 text messages a month! Dani is a bit of a flirt & we like to tease her about her male harem. While we were in Costa Rica this summer doing the zip lines, at each stop an instructor would asked Dani how old she was with a big smile & ended up with a big frown after hearing"17". Apparently they are very strict about underage kids there. She can’t go out to the convenience store alone or even with a chaperone without attracting some male attention. Last week a guy driving by in a truck blaring loud music noticed her looking his direction (despite Sarah's warning to avoid any male eye contact) & made a u-turn to pull into the store parking lot & came inside just as Dani was commenting to Sarah about his lack of teeth. He didn't care. He still asked for her phone number! Dani is also the queen of lip-gloss & won’t even go to the bathroom at night without applying some. I thought she was crazy to put it on before going out to mow the yard, but when the mower broke down & 2 guys stopped to fix it & then finished mowing for her, I realized she was “crazy like the fox! “
Sarah is enjoying senior year & rubbing in at every opportunity that it is her "last time going to the fair, last Thanksgiving, last Christmas, last season of cross country" etc. She can't wait to leave home & I hope she will be as happy as she supposes. She got her braces off after 31/2 years. She runs cross country, rows crew, & works cleaning 30 cat litter boxes 3 days a week for an elderly woman for $240 a month. Last summer her coach assigned her the Head Counselor position when she worked at crew camp & wrote her a letter afterwards thanking her for being the best Head Counselor that she had ever had & asking her to return next year. Sarah is a sweet, confident, opinionated, judgmental, kind-hearted, responsible, inclusive young lady who is very ready to tackle the world in some ways & oh so not ready to be exposed to it in others. She was very excited this week when we went to the Dermatologist to have a rarely appearing mark on her forehead diagnosed & the Dermatologist admitted that he had never seen anything like it & had no idea what it was although he listed a barrage of diagnoses it was not. For some reason she felt that made her unique (apparently she has been pining since Polly's orthopedic surgeon advised Polly that he had never seen bipartite patella’s that caused pain until Polly). Only Sarah would be pleased with a medical abnormality! While on the weird medical theme, on our annual Itchetucknee Springs tubing trip, Sarah elected to swim instead of floating on a tube. By the time we arrived at the end of our trip, Sarah had broken out with a severely itchy rash & welts over her whole body! As we went into the bathroom to change for the trip home, I noticed a sign on the door reading ”WARNING! If you develop a rash or unexplained skin condition, please report it to one of the Rangers to insure proper treatment & reporting of the reaction”. We sought out a Ranger & showed him the rash. He scratched his head & acted entirely ignorant of the WARNING on his bathroom door! Just as I decided that this whole thing was over blown another Ranger walked by & over heard us. He immediately reached into his pocket & handed me a slip of paper, which stated. “Please report this incident to the State Health Dept. of Hazardous Marine Life & Toxins at” a 1-800 number. It was a Sunday & the recording told me to call back during office hours. After Benedryl, a shower, & good nights sleep, Sarah was fine the next morning & went off to school. Being the conscientious mother that I am, I followed up with another call to the State Department. Once again, the person on the other end of the line had no idea what I was talking about. I read him the instructions & the phone number. He said his Department mostly dealt with Red Tide Reports & other toxins. When I asked if this rash posed any threat to my child, he said that he didn’t have a clue. This was not comforting, but it’s our government at work!
Murphy continues to play soccer, run cross country, & surprised an XBox 360 out of me by actually making the JV tennis team at Episcopal & playing at number one despite an obvious lack of practice preparation last spring. His academic efforts (& hence grades) continue to be less than stellar. Murph is perfectly happy to coast through life with the minimum effort required to stay out of trouble at home. Unfortunately, he sometimes does not titrate it perfectly & there is NO TV, NO computer, NO sleepovers, & NO car privileges. He has developed into a nice young man frequently taking up for me with the other Weldon rabble & even manages to make me proud without prodding occasionally. This summer as we were traveling & piled onto a bus headed for an airplane, I noticed from the other side of the bus that Murphy got up & offered his seat to an older woman on his own! He balances those moments with things like the infamous “sauna incident” in Costa Rica that Alan documented. Alan wrote “It's day 3 on the Adventura Costa Rica, we are at the Hacienda Guachipelin for another night. Today we were up at 7am & really stiff from the climb up & jump off the waterfall yesterday but this is kinda an ECO-hotel so the hot water is solar & if someone showers at night then there is no hot water in the morning.... like this morning. We had breakfast, more gallo pinto.... pronounced "Guy-yo peen-toe".... black beans and rice. We have it every day, for breakfast, lunch & dinner; it's typical Costa Rican food. At 8am we were at the stables for the horse back ride to the hot springs, mud baths, & volcano. I haven't been on a horse in many years & the ride, 90 minutes, meant serious butt pain all the way around. The trail was steep & incredibly rocky...the horses slipped constantly with one going down to his knees. Sarah’s horse we all renamed "El-Diablo" since it got into a kicking bout with Beth’s horse & bit Dani's knee... the lead Gaucho had to discipline him (needed Dr Dick to do some ass kickin). Sarah loved her feisty horse. When we went as far as the horses could go, we dismounted & then hiked 3-4 miles up the volcano, had to cross some suspect suspension bridges, a long tree over a gorge like Indiana Jones & cross a set of rapids going rock to rock... no BS here this river was the real deal. The waterfall at the top was awesome & very cold. Oddly only about a kilometer away we came to the bubbling pools of volcanic mud ...248 degrees...you don’t get in these. We went by so many you lose count & the kids were pissed at this point... the joy being sucked out of them by the shear work load of getting up this volcano. Beth & I were having a blast.... pays to be in shape. Horse back down the mountain in the rain to the Symbiosis Spa... a hot mud bath spa on the side of the volcano. Oh by the way...they forgot to bring the lunches...cranking the kids P.O.-meter into the redline area. We were told first to sit 10 minutes in the sauna (to open our pores)...we all dutifully piled in as they shut the door... jeez it's really hot in there. Serious squawking at this point... very concerned about breathing & how much time is left before they open the door. Every breath is an effort. Polly, Beth & Mac move down to the floor... where it is supposedly not as hot & there was a rumor that there was more air. I stayed on the middle bench with Murphy, Sarah & Dani on the top row. At the 5-minute mark it is deathly quiet as every one concentrates on breathing...then Murphy whispers in my ear "safety".... (Remember we have all been on a strict diet of gallo pinto) I blurt out " Oh God No Murphy.”. it was too late. The acrid sulfur smell made the volcanic mud pits smell like fresh laundry. I'm thinking about what the spa director said about opening your pores & what this is going to do to my skin. I'm certain the last molecule of oxygen is now gone. Murphy is howling. Deliverance, they open the door & lead us to the hot mud pit to cover ourselves with hot volcanic mud... again I'm rehashing the whole open pore thing. Dutifully we cover “every” square inch of skin with mud. Now you can't actually expect to put mud & the feral children together & not expect trouble... it wasn’t long in coming. It was sort of a Costa Rican mud-wrestling extravaganza. The British family at the mud bath at the same time were somewhat taken aback..."Oh Dear God!" To top things off...the showers quit working. What to do, naturally we hit the hot springs & to nobody's surprise instantly changed the color of the water from blue to a deep mud brown. That mud doesn’t come off very well either. We then, back in wet clothes with residual mud attached, got back on the horses for the ride back down...another hour. When we got back, Beth & I decided on a couples massage...we loaded up more Gallo pinto, some muscle relaxants (coconut rum), & headed to the massage. It was a man & a woman (who had striking witch-like features)...usually I get the dude because Beth is uncomfortable with guys giving massages, I am also uncomfortable with guys giving me massages, actually it ranks right up there with witches but guess what…I got the witch. Lights dimmed & under a towel she began working on me...at this point in time... so did the gallo pinto. I was rumbling audibly & I think she thought she could help by working diligently on my AB's. Bad idea. I was able to somehow hold back the tide but it was like someone squeezing an unopened bag of chips...the kind made with Olestra. She then started lighting candles...I’m not sure if this is some wicken behavior or if she thought striking matches was going to help. Next she applies some liquid to my face & returns to the massage...rumblings now under control. After about 15 minutes she wipes the stuff off my face...with a warm wet cloth...I now realize that this is some kind of skin exfoliation treatment. Sort of a cross between the gelatinous rust remover used at paint & body shops & a hoof rasp. I felt like Ben Stiller in Mystery Men as Captain Furious..." heart rate rising...blood pressure increasing...skin temperature approaching the surface of the sun". OMG...WTF...this @#% burns. If I have any skin cancer it is now gone...along with every wrinkle...blemish & any distinguishing scars. The rumbling starts again...now Beth can hear it...I think about saying "safety". My mind is rapidly working on the physics...the open flame...how far from my ass to the candle & back to the volatile liquid on my face. This is going to be really bad. My mind is replaying video clips from those disaster movies where the fireball blows out all the windows. I think Cruella figures this out & they both bolt for the door...the concentration on my face evident…the sphincter gives up… the volcano erupts...how do you say "safety” in Spanish? Beth is convulsing under her towel (laughter or convulsions from toxic gas?) & in the distance there is snickering on the other side of the door with a Spanish accent. I have Beth check my face...not sure if she will recognize me...I feel like a burn victim. We get dressed & they are waiting for us on the other side of the door. They are very concerned when we go to walk back to the room " you are very hot...perhaps sick" (I’m sure my face looks like a tomato) they wrap us in towels ...I want to tell him that Dr Mengela just deep fried my face, of course I'm hot... he wants to come with us & use an umbrella so we don't get wet...but we wave him off welcoming the cool rain on my face as we return to our room, where the numbing anesthetic qualities of coconut rum awaits. Tonight for dinner...you guessed it...gallo pinto!” Another example of Murphy’s sense of humor was operation devil cat. We have 1 very strange cat that Dani feels has taken to stalking her. I don't know if Dani started it by expressing this concern or Murphy started the anxiety by putting the cat in Dani's room every time she left it even for a minute or 2. She kept complaining that she was shutting her door & it would remain shut but still the cat was getting in. Murphy kept telling her about the air-ducts in her closet & the space under the door & she would diligently check these sources of entry & try to rule them out. But still every time she went into her room that cat was sitting on her pillow staring at her. Amazingly enough Murphy who has never kept a secret in his life pulled this one off for 2 months before telling Alan & letting the proverbial cat out of the bag!
Polly runs cross-country, plays soccer, & runs track. She was diagnosed with painful bipartite patellas but the good news was that it wouldn’t cause further damage to run through the pain & so she does (ignoring my suggestion that a weekend warrior lifestyle might be better for her than the intense 7 days a week of training required in high school sports). Last fall, after winning the Celeste Hampton award for Outstanding Character in cross country (reported last year), she won it again for soccer in January & so got 2 Celeste Hamptons in 1 school year which is a huge accomplishment & quite unusual according to my sister Catherine (whose daughter Katie did it the year before!) Polly is a diligent student & hopes to follow her folk’s footsteps to & through vet school. She is off to a good start & so far this year has nursed a baby turtle attacked by birds, the minnows she caught to feed the turtle so it could be released into the wild knowing how to forage for itself (the turtle has refused to eat the minnows & they are now named & additional pets), a crow missing some feathers so it can't fly, 4 squirrels, & a flying squirrel as well as Fou & Momo (her dogs), Feisty (her Leopard Gecko), & Todd (her hamster). Alan says she’s Polly Mae hanging out by the cement pond with all her critters. Polly works Saturdays at Parkway bathing animals, cleaning cages, walking dogs, sweeping, mopping, & (her favorite) poop patrol! She loves it & was tickled pink when she reported to me 2 weeks ago that she got a raise (no longer paid by the pile)!
Mac played football this year & is wrestling now. He loves both but I cringe every time I watch him wrestle. I am much happier when we have a schedule conflict & Alan watches the wrestling & I attend whatever soccer game is in progress. Last year Mac was the smallest wrestler on the middle school team & the biggest wrestler was also a redhead named Mac. The larger Mac was called Big Mac & my Mac was dubbed Happy Meal! Mac got into the end of a football game this fall & had the longest run from scrimmage against archrival Bolles (probably because no one could see him until he broke into the open because he is also the shortest player on the football team). After the play I heard over the loud speaker “and there goes Mac ‘Happy Meal’ Weldon with a nice 15 yard run!” Turns out Big Macs’ dad was announcing the game. Mac is an avid reader (all except Murphy are) & a great student (when he hands his homework in). He says he wants to go to MIT but I explained that might be a problem since they require you to turn in assignments there. While helping Alan clean out mom’s office as a new years resolution (untouched for over 20 years) Alan found a box and (for some reason) showed it to Mac. It contained a pneumatic “male enhancer” in his best Austin Powers voice Mac said “ honestly, baby…it’s not mine!” Mom claims dads brother gave it to him! Mac continues to observe the world in his unique manner. He was selected with 2 classmates to be on the cover of the Episcopal magazine & complained because his teacher insisted that he comb his hair before the photo was taken. He objected on the grounds that it was not “his style” to comb his hair and that his Dad says, “it doesn’t matter how it looks as long as it sticks to your head”. Fortunately the teacher prevailed! As always, God has truly smiled on the Weldon’s…. Have a Happy New Year & God Bless! Alan, Beth, Sarah, Dani, Murphy, Polly, and Happy Meal!
P.S. Sarah just got into Washington University and is ecstatic! Alan said I should point out that is why the font is so small as we are trying to save on postage for tuition!



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